Update Regarding Swelling in My Arms, Surgery Options and My Plan Moving Forward

At the beginning of March, I met with a new surgeon to get his opinion as to what is going on with my arms and the banding and what he thinks we need to do in terms of surgery. If you have no idea what I am talking about I have a whole blog talking specifically about what is going on, click HERE to read more about what is going on with my arms and my first trip to see a specialist about surgery to help my arms.

I have met with my regular surgeon Dr. Beck, who is amazing and he did give me in his opinion what was going on and all about the surgery he can do, but we both thought it would be a good idea to have me see another specialist and see if they have other ideas or suggestions to try.

What are my arms like currently?

I am still having a lot of swelling in my arms. Some days have been better than others and I do have an area on my right arm that is splitting open. I feel like ever since I have finally received some help with this wound and have been seeing a wound specialist, this is getting better with the proper care. Again, for whatever reason, some days are better than others and some days it is fully closed and the next it can split open again.

Right Arm with a wound in the crease near the elbow.
Right Arm with a wound in the crease near the elbow.
Right Arm with a wound in the crease near the elbow.
Right Arm with a wound in the crease near the elbow.

When I went to see this new surgeon, we had to address not only the swelling and fluid retention in my arms, but address this open wound on my arm that seems to keep coming and going. I was so nervous to meet with him since the last time I met with a specialist it did not go well…not at all. She was rude and treated me with total disrespect and shamed me and my body the whole time! (Click HERE for the blog all about how I responded to her)

This appointment can go in two different ways.

Needless to say, this time I was very nervous about this appointment and had no idea what to expect. I was actually crying when we drove to the office. All I could think about was what he would say and what the next steps would be in helping my arms. While I was sitting in the room waiting for him to come in, I felt a lump in my throat and was really trying so hard to fight back the tears. I had to take many deep breaths and try and keep myself calm.

Time for another opinion

When he came in, he was very nice, but a little quiet. He did not have much to say at first and just asked me to explain what was going on. I mentioned to him about how I had gained some weight, how I had the wound on my arm and how my arms have been really puffy and full of fluid. He examined my arms and agreed that they were very swollen and that the banding on my arms was a cause for some concern. He was also very concerned about how my skin kept ripping open and the skin was breaking down in the crease of my elbow.

As the appointment continued, he was very quiet still and did not say a lot. He kept examining my arms, looking at them, feeling around them and you could tell he was really thinking and trying to figure out a plan for how to help me.

Let’s come up with a plan

After looking and touching my arms he had come up with a plan. He drew a picture and did a great job of explaining the surgery he would perform or thinks I need to have done in order to fix the banding issue I am having. This picture, information, and the procedure was the same thing my regular surgeon Dr. Beck had recommended. It was nice to hear that this specialist and my surgeon are on the same page as to what is best for me. He explained that I would need surgery where they make a Z cut on my arms and release the band so the fluid can move properly. The banding is preventing the fluid from flowing properly and causing it to “build up” and look puffy. He said that he thinks surgery is the only way to release that band and take care of this issue. He didn’t really know why this was happening or what caused my arms to form this banding. He said that the skin removal surgery on my arms could have added to this since your skin is pulled tight during this procedure, but he has not seen this happen before or thinks that surgery alone would have caused this.

Do you know the cause?

I did ask him if gaining weight added to this and was the cause of this issue. He was very respectful and answered my question in a way that I would HOPE anyone would, but especially someone in the medical field. I hope that anyone in the medical field talking to a patient about their weight would use the same amount of care and respect that this doctor had for me. He told me that weight probably did add to the problem and it was making this issue worse. He said that in his opinion weight gain was not what necessarily caused this to happen and that losing weight would not necessarily fix this issue. He did say that because I did gain some weight, it caused the skin to try and expand more than it could, causing my arms to look puffier and making the band around my arms tighter.

So in terms of why this happened, I don’t think anybody can specifically pinpoint exactly why this banding happened. What we do know is that it’s just something that my body is dealing with right now and that because I did have skin removal on my arms and I did gain some weight, that a combination of those things is only adding to the problem.

When I told this specialist about my weight gain I was very honest because it is something I feel is so important in trying to figure out what is going on with my body. Being open and honest about this is only going to give him all the information he needs in order to hopefully help me, and that by talking about this shows that I am taking responsibility for what is going on and for the weight gain.

What’s next?

He told me that in his recommendation before he would perform surgery, he would like me to lose some weight and continue to wear my compression garments. He wants to see if we can get some fluid out and help the puffiness go down. He said for the safety and effectiveness of this surgery that a combination of losing weight and getting the fluid down will only help the overall results. He said that if we did surgery now, things might not heal properly and the swelling/puffiness will only get worse and could split open the new incisions. If this were to happen we would be in a much worse situation than we are in now. He wants me to check back with him in a few months. He would also like me to see if I can get new arm compressions for my arms since the ones I currently have pull up like sleeves and every time I pull them on, it splits open the wound on my arm more. So for now, he wants me to lose some weight, try the new compression and then said we will meet again and check on the process and see how things are doing.

Does this seem like a good plan?

He then asked me if I thought this sounded like a good plan….and then it happened…I kinda lost it and began crying…a lot. I really did not want to, mean to or really know why I was crying…but there I was hysterically crying in his office. I felt so bad because he kept asking me if he said or did something to hurt my feelings. I was crying so hard that I could not answer. Finally, I calmed down, feeling totally embarrassed, and I was able to express to him what I was feeling.

I think its important to share that with you as well so I can really express to you guys what I am feeling dealing with all of this.

Why did I cry?

I was crying because I felt really angry. I was not upset at the Doctor for anything he said, I told him I completely agreed with him and thought that it was a great plan. The way he talked about my weight gain was handled in a very professional way and he was completely respectful. I was not angry at him at all. I was angry with myself. I felt so much hatred and regret and frustration with myself. Gaining weight and dealing with that weight gain is something that tears me apart and causes me so much pain. I am SO hard on myself and am filled with so much regret that I ever gained any weight at all. I am disappointed in myself that I allowed this to happen. I feel like I have failed, messed up and I feel so angry with myself that sometimes it’s hard to move forward because I am filled with so much anger and shame. I know that gaining weight is making this situation with my arms worse. I wonder all of the time if I never gained any weight if this would even be an issue. No matter how many times doctors tell me that weight gain is not the main reason this is happening, it’s like I do not hear them and think this is all my fault. I am working on the way I talk to myself, how I think about myself and dealing with the weight gain every single day. These are the reasons why I was crying right there in the doctor’s office.

I take full responsibility for my weight gain

I want to share that because I am well aware that I have gained some weight. I take full responsibility and own up to the fact that yes I have gained some weight, yes I am struggling with it, but also I am dealing with it. I am working on losing some weight. I am practicing forgiveness, self-love, and self-respect through it all. I am doing everything I can right now to help my body, my arms, and to love myself no matter what.

Yes, I cried a lot in his office, but for me, I had to allow all of those emotions I was holding in to come out. I felt like since the last appointment with that rude doctor, I was holding my breath through this whole appointment and when I finally let out my breath, tears came along with it. I was totally embarrassed but it felt good to allow those emotions to come out.

The doctor’s response to my crying

I told the doctor that he was amazing and that I am just so hard on myself because of the weight gain. I told him I am having a hard time dealing with that regain and that I have really been struggling. He then smiled at me and asked me if I had a picture of me when I was over 500 pounds. I then pulled up a before and after picture and he just stared at that picture for a long time. He then said something that really touched me. He said “Never forget how amazing you are. You have come so far and you are still on your journey. You have to focus on how far you have already come and stop focusing on the small bumps in the road you will face. You gained weight but you have not given up. You still have so much to be proud of yourself for. Just keep moving forward. I know you can do it.” That’s exactly it, what I need to keep in mind and remember is that just because I might be struggling with some regained weight right now, does not mean that I have failed. I have not stopped working on myself and I also need to remember where I have come from and what I have accomplished along this journey.

What now?

We will see how some weight loss will help my arms, I will continue to do wound care on the wound and hope it stays closed, I will try and get new arm garments, and I will keep moving forward, one step and one day at a time. I do not want surgery on my arms and I might be angry at myself for gaining some weight but I am trying not to focus on that. I am only focusing on the things that I can change and what I can control. I keep reminding myself of just how far I have come and that there is no way I am giving up now! I didn’t come this far to only come this far. If I do end up needing surgery, I may not like it, but I know I will be able to handle it, deal with it and just continue to move forward. I know for sure no matter what happens, I will never, ever give up!

No, I really do not have an answer to everyone’s question as to “Why this is happening to my arms”. All I can say is that my body is holding onto fluid for some reason, the banding on my arms is adding to the fluid not being able to leave my body. The added puffiness is because I did gain some weight and my skin cannot expand well because the scar tissue from my arm lift and cannot expand like regular skin. Some days my arms look a little better than others, and some days they are SUPER puffy. Some days the wound is closed and other times it is split back open. Again, I have no idea why, but I will continue to keep taking it one day at a time. Since this appointment, I have lost some weight but it is not making much of a difference. Just because it doesn’t seem to be making a difference doesn’t mean I am going to stop…I will keep moving forward

The WHY is not important

The reason why this is happening to my arms is not that important right now. It does not matter why this is happening to my arms. What is important to remember for all of us is to keep going. No matter what happens in life, what obstacles we face, if we lose weight, gain weight, or maintain our weight, fall down or slip up….we must focus on standing back up so we can keep going. We need to focus on the path in front of us and keep moving forward even if it is one baby step at a time. We must never give up, keep doing our best and focus on the path ahead. The past is behind us and we are not going back, we are only moving forward. Being angry with our choices or past decisions will not help us reach our goals and it will certainly not “fix” the problem. So remember to focus on what you can do and what you can control and keep putting in the work to get to where you want to go.

 

XOXO
Jacqueline

3 Comments

  • Jacqueline, I am in awe at every post you make. You willingly share your most painful times, no matter how much you’re hurting, and that (for me) makes you my superhero.
    I have fought with weight, and eating issues, for almost all of my life, and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve sat and sobbed. I’ve tried all of those “fad” diets, the extremely low calorie ones, the incredibly expensive “celebrity” plans…and all they’ve ever done was make me feel even worse!! I was described as a “beast” by the surgeon who had to remove my gallbladder as an emergency…apparently, sudden extreme weight loss can cause major problems with the gallbladder. He actually blamed me for making his job difficult in front of several students!! On returning home, I did what I always do when I’m hurting…I ate, and ate.
    Only people who have struggled with their weight can truly understand how big an issue it is.
    You are a beautiful young woman, Jacqueline, you have a warm and loving soul, and you are such an inspiration to me and many, many other people.
    I hope and pray that the next surgery you have is a complete success…I shall keep you in my heart, and, in my prayers.
    Very much love, and 100% positivity, being sent across the miles xx

    Averil Walker 17.04.2020
  • 🙂

    Xala 17.04.2020
  • Jacqueline, I cried when I read what the doctor said. And he is right, you are amazing and should be proud. You never give up and that is amazing spirit! Thank you for always sharing your story, even the raw moments.

    CARRIE 26.04.2020

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